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High Sierra Adventure:

Do you ever spend time in the wilderness and get absolutely blown away by the vastness of the beauty in our world?  Last weekend I joined some of my best friends for a long run through the Inyo National Forest, John Muir Wilderness, Golden Trout Wilderness and Sequoia/Kings Canyon National Park.  We began at the Cottonwood Lakes Trailhead, which is about a 40-minute drive into the hills from Lone Pine.  The trailhead and the campground sit at 10,000” feet of elevation, making for an absolutely beautiful and secluded place to rest your head.  We ran a 43-mile loop beginning at the campground, going up through New Army Pass, past Sky Blue Lake, Crabtree Lakes, connecting to the Pacific Crest Trail, winding through the Siberian Outpost, and making our way back to where we started.  If you don’t know where any of those places are or don’t have a concept of what it’s like, let me shed some light with my three biggest takeaways:

  1. Going off the beaten path is always the best choice.

These were some of the most awe-inspiring lakes and mountains I’ve ever seen.  And while I hadn’t run in this specific area, I had been to Mount Whitney and the surrounding wilderness areas many times before.  So, what made this experience so different?  We were far out!  Not “far out,” but really far away from civilization! Some of the lakes we visited were so many miles from any trailhead and so far from any regularly traveled trails, that getting there had to be very intentional.  We barely saw a soul the whole time we were out there!  That’s aspect makes an adventure feel even more special to me.

  1. High-elevation long days in the mountains are tough.

We started our run at 10,000’ of elevation and stayed up above that the whole day!  We reached nearly as high as 13,000’, so we were between 10,000’ and 13,000’ for about twelve hours.  I usually do well with high altitude, but this run reminded me that you really need to focus on nutrition and hydration when you’re up so high for so long!  I was experiencing some dehydration, headaches, and lightheadedness early on, but once I corrected that and focused on intaking plenty of extra fluids and nutrition, I no longer had any issues.  Altitude is no joke, so do your best to stay ahead on body care issues when you embark on your own High Sierra adventures!

  1. Take some time to soak it all in.

As a professional ultra-trail runner, I am usually trying to run races and expeditions as quickly as possible.  So, when I get a chance to get out for a big run in the mountains and soak up the surroundings, I jump on it!  Even if you’re in a hurry or trying to complete an adventure before it gets dark (like we were), take those extra moments to be present and breathe in the surroundings.  After all, those are the moments we reminisce about for years to come!